Gracing the Dawn by Roxana Villa, revisited

Gracing the Dawn

Last July, Roxana Villa sent me a sample of what was then a new release, the solid version of Gracing the Dawn. We had just moved back into our newly remodeled home, and I was still on my blogging hiatus, so I tucked it away in my “special scent” drawer, and didn’t open it until just a few days ago.

I don’t have my sample of the liquid version anymore, but smelling the solid fragrance on my skin brings its memory right back to life. Gracing the Dawn is a glorious chypre redolent  of oakmoss and leather, but the solid downplays the chypre aspect and lighter florals swirl in the foreground. Orange blossoms and mimosa flutter about, along with blades of grass, and subtle herbs, showing off their brightness. Richer flowers like jasmine, rose, and narcissus are present, but dwell subtly with the oakmoss, all the while providing a chypre foundation by bolstering Gracing the Dawn’s fullness and feeling of abundance.

Gracing the Dawn 2

In my review of the liquid version of Gracing the Dawn, I focused on its vintage kinship which is not the case with the perfume solid. There is a quiet nod to the past of course, it is a chypre after all, but it does not harken to the past like the liquid did for me. The solid has more warmth and I don’t recall such a delicious buzz from the orange blossoms and a flurry of leafy-hay in the heart.

Like all of Roxana Illuminated Perfumes’ fragrances, Gracing the Dawn is 100% all natural, and her solid perfumes are in a base of organic jojoba oil with beeswax from her own bees or other bee keepers in her area.

Gracing the Dawn Locket

Gracing the Dawn is available in a locket at the Roxana Illuminated Perfume etsy site for $35. (See above photo from Roxana’s site). Other sizes available.

Gracing the Dawn Lookbook: here

The top two photographs were taken by me. Bottom photo courtesy of Roxana Illuminated Perfume.

A Dozen Roses. A Valentine’s Day Blogging Event


DozenRosesX12

Some of you may know that it’s been a year since my last post, and I have to thank Ayala of Ayala Moriel Parfums for asking me to take part in this Rose Blogging Event for Valentine’s Day, even though Scent Hive has been in a deep slumber. I needed someone to reach out and get me to dust off the old blog, so I really appreciate her kindness. I come to this post with a giddy sense of anticipation but admittedly with a bit of hesitation as well. I’m not sure if this means I will get back to blogging on the regular, or just every now and then, but I do know that I am excited to share this lovely, dozen full of roses with you all.

Rose Ginger Oolong Tea

Aftelier Rose Ginger Oolong Tea: What better way to set the mood for a feature on rose scented products than a warm cup of tea that has been blended with Turkish rose? Oolong tea has become a favorite of mine over the years as I find it wakes me up without the making me jittery and this one in particular has a smooth smokiness that is brightened by a judicious use of ginger and a dreamy perfuming of soft rose. A tin of this precious tea would be such a unique gift, but don’t forget to order one for yourself.

DSH Dirty Rose

DSH Perfumes Dirty Rose: As the name suggests, Dirty Rose is not a clean or pristine flower, but I’d wear it to high tea just to raise an eyebrow or two. It’s true that this rose has been tossed and turned through rich, fecund soil more than a few times. Its petals are less than virginal, as they’ve reached the point of full ripeness with slight decay at their edges. Oakmoss, oud and leather are the predominant notes to my nose, and applying Dirty Rose to my skin is like slipping on a weathered leather jacket that is suffused with rose and the scent of damp earth. (85% natural)

Ayala

Ayala Moriel Parfums Tea Rose: While Dirty Rose is indeed an unkempt little thing, Tea Rose is a clean, rosy petal-musk that won’t make anyone blush. That’s not to say it’s boring or uptight. If you’re familiar with Ayala’s perfumes you know that’s never the case. But Tea Rose is redolent of bright and pretty roses (no dirt here), magnified by the fruitiness of osmanthus and cassis. Green tea adds depth and astringency, thereby grounding all of this lovely sweetness. And then of course there’s the musk, the vegetal musk of ambrette seed which permeates the first top note and the very last hint of the drydown. It’s a pale and delicate musk, but it’s undeniably there.

Bed of Roses

Velvet and Sweet Pea Bed of Roses: Laurie Stern, the creator of Bed of Roses, describes this perfume as “voluptuous” and voluptuous it is! It is made from nine rose distillations from all parts of the world in addition to other full-bodied florals like tuberose, boronia and orange blossom. Aged sandalwood and cognac are also present which bolster this bed’s foundation with a vintage richness, but it never gets too tangled up in the past as rose leaf absolute and green mandarin are also in the mix, asserting themselves with a fresh modernity. Since this is an all natural perfume you won’t find it booming with aldehydes, but it booms in its own way, with this many lush distillations, absolutes, and Laurie’s expert hand at the helm, there’s no way it couldn’t.

Rosa Solid

Roxana Illuminated Perfume Rosa: One of my dearest friends gave me Rosa as a birthday gift a few years back. It’s the solid perfume form of Rosa, housed in a vintage inspired compact which is nestled in a handmade pink crocheted pouch. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness and think of her every time I wear this ambery rose. When I use the term amber, I mean it specifically in Roxana’s botanical context, which is laden with labdanum, benzoin, and mossy woods. The rose opening blooms within the perfume solid’s base of organic beeswax which radiates a pure warmth into the supple, leathery heart. Oud and vetiver, the foundations of Rosa’s base, complete this woodland rose walk, one that lasts for many hours.

Rose Face Elixir

Aftelier Rose Face Elixir: I’ve been using facial oils long enough now that after one look at the list of oils in Mandy Aftel’s Rose Face Elixir, I knew it would leave my skin nourished and glowing. You can take a peek at the full roster yourself, but a small sampling includes wildcrafted rose hip oil (which contains retinol and is loaded with vitamin c), organic camellia oil, and organic grapeseed oil. What I wasn’t expecting, was to be completely smitten by the scent. So much so that I want this in a body oil form, I want to spritz it as an EDP and I want to dab it gingerly as a parfum. Mandy’s perfumes are typically quite complex and multifaceted. A sign of a gifted artist to be sure. But her balanced and nuanced use of just three essences, rose, sandalwood and frankincense, seems to me to need just as much skill and talent as this triad hums with a stunningly relaxed beauty.

SIP Sage and Rose

Strange Invisible Perfumes Sage and Rose Body Lotion: I had a preconceived notion that the sage in this lotion might consume the rose, turning this into a predominantly herbal experience. I was wrong. The sage and rose instantaneously fuse together as it warms on the skin sharing their respective herbaceous and sweetly floral qualities. The overall scent is mild, but provides an excellent base for layering any one of the aforementioned perfumes, especially if you are interested in adding a hint of leafiness. As for its efficacy, the lightness of this lotion belies its powerhouse moisturizing capabilities. Organic sweet almond oil, wildcrafted avocado oil, and a host of other skin nourishing oils feel like velvet and leave your skin supple and beautifully scented.

Bois de Rose

In Fiore Bois de Rose Beauty Balm: I have excellent news dear readers! Bois de Rose, once an exclusive to the In Fiore boutique in San Francisco, is now readily available at Beautyhabit.com, which means samples of this gem are within reach. If you’ve never experienced an In Fiore Beauty Balm, I can’t recommend them highly enough. Made of cold-pressed grapeseed oil, jojoba seed oil, beeswax and vitamin e, the Body Balms are near solid at room temperature, but melt effortlessly into oil, soothing the thirstiest of skin. In Fiore offers many lovely fragrances from solid perfumes to oils to these balms, and Bois de Rose is my favorite because it’s a little different. I think it’s the vetiver that gives this woody floral an unexpected, chewy bite. The rose is pretty of course, and the rosewood is warm and familiar, but the vetiver adds a nutty-earthiness that I can taste in the back of my throat as I inhale its aroma. So it’s a little wild this Bois de Rose, but in an insouciant, sensual way. Perfect for your aprés bath, and pre-bedtime ritual.

Malie Beauty Oil

Malie Jasmine Rose Beauty Oil: Maile’s Beauty Oil is another rose centered oil that I love to use after a bath or shower. It soaks into the skin a little faster than In Fiore’s Body Balms, so I use this one more frequently. Everything about this Beauty Oil speaks of dewy softness to me. The blend of organic jasmine and organic rose oils are in perfect harmony. The petals are equally weighted and nearly weightless, gaining mass only from the morning’s mist off the ocean. Somewhat fresh and only mildly indolic, I will always have this skin elixir of organic coconut oil, organic jojoba oil, organic apricot kernel oil, and organic grapeseed oil as long as Maile makes it. Update: Yikes, I can’t find the Beauty Oil on the Malie website! Grab it while you can here

I’d like to wrap up with a “nosegay” of rose products that I have been using almost daily for the past 3+ years. Weleda’s Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash is perfect if you enjoy a luxuriously sudsy foaming wash on your scrunchie. Yet, I have found that its ideal use is as a shaving cream, and a shaving with a cream that smells like wild and musky rose mosqueta makes the task much more pleasant. Something I enjoy far more than shaving, is spritzing my face with a hydosol. I have many in my collection, but right now the one in heaviest rotation is Tammy Fender’s Bulgarian Rose Water. I use it before my nightly facial moisturizer whether it be oil or cream, and I also spritz it onto my kabuki brush before applying powder foundation. Its rose scent is surprisingly rich and lingers longer than any other rose hydrosol I have used, which is good because it’s also the most expensive one I have used! I will end this post with a longtime love, Dr. Haushcka’s Rose Day Cream. Even though I have become partial to oils for nighttime facial moisturizing, I use this nightly as an eye cream and sometimes over my entire face when I want the comforting feeling of a cream on my dry skin. The scent is aromatic rose heaven, and it hydrates like a dream.

So there’s my dozen roses for Valentine’s Day. Please stop by the following blogs to see what these lovely ladies have procured for you.

All I Am A Red Head
EauMG
Katie Puckrik Smells
The Non Blonde
Perfume Shrine
Roxana Illuminated Perfume
Smelly Blog

Best of 2011: A Blogging Event.

 

Another year is coming to a close, so it’s time to wrap it up with a Best of 2011 list. Truthfully, there were gobs of fabulous releases this year, particularly in the natural fragrance realm, which makes me giddy and thrilled for all those indie artists devoted to the alchemy of botanical perfume. In the interest of keeping your attention- and since long lists are rarely a pleasure to read through- I’ve distilled my Best Of list to 10.

Best Perfumes:
Muguet de Mai by DSH Perfumes. When I asked Dawn Spencer Hurwitz if she would be interested in creating an all natural muguet scent for a May Day blogging event, I had no idea such a stunningly beautiful, complex, and true-to-life lily of the valley perfume would emerge. Muguet de Mai is like turning over a rain soaked tree branch in the forest to find a protected cluster of freshly blooming lily of the valley, densely floral while teeming with the fecundity of the soil’s riches. Muguet de Mai is a marvel and I can’t thank Dawn enough for taking me up on my offer, and for creating my favorite perfume of the year. Muguet de Mai is available at DSH Perfumes, $125 for 5ml antique parfum presentation. 

To Bee by Roxana Illuminated Perfume. The scent of beeswax, whether it’s burning in a candle or suffusing the skin as a perfume, is one of those aromas that I find instantly soothing. Its honeyed and resinous warmth calms my nerves and slows my breath. To Bee achieves this effect beautifully and is enhanced by many essences, but most notably tonka, ambrette and oud. Even though To Bee is lovely on a cold wintery eve, it’s truly a seasonless scent. I first discovered To Bee in the heat of July when summer’s warmth amplified its delightfully ambery sweetness.  To Bee is available in solid or liquid perfume at Roxana’s etsy shop. I particularly love the solid perfume locket for $30.

Dimanche EDP by Strange Invisible Perfumes. Dimanche was first released as a limited edition parfum in 2010, but in early 2011, it was made available in EDP concentration. The EDP is also limited edition, but the Strange Invisible Perfumes boutique still has a small quantity in stock. Dimanche opens with a cool and crisp iris, then proceeds to warm-up in the middle with hay, rose, and honey. A not-too-sweet amber dusted with cocoa awaits in the drydown, making for an olfactory experience that is multi-layered, compelling and alluring. Dimanche EDP is available only via the SIP Boutique. $270 for 50ml. Please call  310.314.1505 for phone orders. 

Orcas by Ayala Moriel Parfums. Orcas is a fragrance that sweeps you off your feet and carries you along the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest coastline. Within Orcas, you will discover spruce, moss, rosemary and seaweed that are herbaceous and invigorating. Violet leaf and cedar are also in this seafaring perfume which cast complementing green and woody tones. Wearing Orcas this winter has me longing for a summer drive along the northernmost parts of Highway 101. It’s a little melancholy since those months feel very far away, but put on some Nick Drake and a dabbing of Orcas, and wallow in its wistful beauty. Orcas is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums, $120 for 15ml splash bottle.

Cologne du Maghreb by Tauer Perfumes. I recently reviewed Andy Tauer’s all natural cologne a few weeks ago, but it is so remarkable, that I can’t help but mention it again so soon, as it really is one of the Best of 2011. I love how CdM’s deliciously vibrant citrus notes are savored from its opening notes to the drydown. Orange blossom and cedar are then enjoyed in the middle stage of CdM’s development, and the drydown is more than worth waiting for. To quote my review, “… in the end, this classically styled cologne morphs into an amber fragrance replete with sweet yet animalic labdanum that still continues to be green and citrusy-floral. It’s really amazing and beautiful and appropriate for both men and women.” Cologne du Maghreb is available exclusively at Indiescents. $65 for 50ml atomizer flacon.

Best Skincare, High-End and Luxurious:
I hand this award to Tammy Fender without a moment’s hesitation. Her eponymous skincare line was launched several years ago, but it’s a 2011 find for me, so on this list it goes. The product that I am most crazy about and would gladly shell out 95 clams for, is the Antioxidant Creme with Neroli & Orange. Click on the link and you’ll find the full list of ingredients that reads like a juice bar menu, as well as information on highlighted ingredients like algae extract and carrot seed. I am totally addicted to the glorious neroli scent of this facial moisturizer. It smells just like the orange blossom seasons I remember from my childhood, and it sends me into a relaxing sleep. The consistency is a cream-gel hybrid that feels nourishing as it rapidly absorbs into the skin. I use this at night as I don’t want to use my little jar of precious up too quickly, but if I had my druthers, I’d use it day and night. Tammy Fender Antioxidant Creme is available at her website, $95 for 1.9oz glass jar.

I am also loving the Tammy Fender Cleansing Milk which is rich and thick and possesses an aromatic lavender scent that vacillates between sweet and herbal. I know lavender can be an irritant to some, so if that’s the case, this cleansing milk is not for you. As for me, I love lavender and my skin loves it as well, so I slather it on, massage it in, and let it cleanse, which it does very well. Tammy Fender Cleansing Milk is available at her website, $55 for 6.7oz glass pump bottle.

Best Skincare, Drugstore Deal:
Burt’s Bees has come out with a really nice line of sensitive skincare that’s worth attention. I have the Sensitive Facial Cleanser and the Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream and am highly impressed with both. The cleanser is similar in consistency to the Tammy Fender Cleansing Milk, albeit without the high price tag or the lavender scent. But, the ingredients are just shy of being all natural (99%), and some of the “natural ingredients” are highly processed and nowhere near the food grade, organic quality of Tammy Fender’s line. Having said that, $10 is a much more accessible price point and it works great. Available at Burt’s Bees, $10 for 6 oz.

The Burt’s Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream does a nice job of moisturizing given its lightweight formula. Like the Cleansing Cream, it’s 99% natural- not at the Tammy Fender level of natural- but for $15, you get a lovely cream that wears well under powder or liquid foundation, and has been keeping my skin soft even in this winter weather. Soothing aloe, shea butter and moisturizing rice extract provide efficacious hydration, and is fragrance free. It’s available at Burt’s Bees, $15 for a 1.8 oz pump.

Best Body Moisturizer:
Pear, Fir and Coffee Body Oil and Hair Elixir by Aftelier Perfumes. Scent Hive readers might remember that I included this gem in my Holiday Gift Guide. Now it’s making an appearance on this list because not only does it make a great gift, it also happens to be my favorite body oil of the year. (Body oils are my preferred mode of skin hydration, BTW). So why do I love this one so much? It’s that quirky mix of notes, pear, fir and coffee, that excites my senses as this trio of fruity, balsamic, and earthy essences play against each other in a truly unique way. The luscious blend of fractionated coconut and jojoba oils provide superb hydration and act as excellent carriers for the botanical essences. I wish my sample wasn’t tapped out as I am dying to use it in my hair since it’s also billed as a hair elixir. I guess that means my shopping cart over at Aftelier.com might be getting some action real soon. Aftelier’s Pear, Fir and Coffee Body Oil and Hair Elixir is available at Aftelier.com, $40 for a 3.5 oz glass pump bottle.

Please visit the blogs listed below as they are also sharing their “Best of 2011″ picks. I can’t wait to see what they favored this year!

Another Perfume Blog
DSH Notebook
EauMG
Perfume Shrine
Smelly Blog
The Non Blonde

Best of 2011 image by Roxana of Illuminated Perfume

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Holiday Gift Guide

 

It was difficult to edit my gift picks as I want everything I reviewed this past year and would love to give them all as gifts. In any event, here it is, an attempt that hopefully covers reasonable price points and varying tastes to aid in your gifting pleasure.

Roxana Illuminated Perfume Hedera Helix: Wouldn’t you love to receive the lovely compacts pictured above? I certainly would as they’re filled with Roxana Villa’s newest fragrance, Hedera Helix, an olfactory ode to ivy. Not surprisingly, this perfume is a leafy green chypre that has a dense and addicting note of oakmoss as its foundation. Both incarnations of Hedera Helix, solid and liquid, are a complex blend of nearly forty different essences, but I prefer the solid’s focus on the effervescent top notes of clementine, orange blossom, and grapefruit. (The liquid is much more resinous and inky and also very beautiful). The heart is full of warm beeswax and woods and the drydown is dappled with sweet rose and jasmine petals. I find this progression from chypre green to pale pink to be quite compelling and all together lovely. The mini compact is $30 for approximately 1.5 gm. If you live in the Portland, OR area, you can test Roxana’s perfumes at Spring Creek Store.

Red Flower Sweet Alyssum: Sweet Alyssum is Red Flower’s latest perfume offering which evokes the burgeoning blossoms of spring. And what better time to have your spirits lifted by iris, violet, honey and hay than in the middle of winter’s darkness? It’s a scent to daydream by. Plan that escape to a sundrenched shore, or imagine the color of that first blooming violet, heralding the new garden season. Whatever the dream, Sweet Alyssum will make it brighter. Sweet Alyssum is $138 for 1.0 oz, exclusively at Garnet Hill.

 

Alima Nourishing Lip Balm: Speaking of dreams, I can’t go to bed without putting lip balm on my lips. And I know I’m not the only balm addict out there. I bet you’re one yourself, or you know one pretty well. Alima’s Nourishing Lip Balm will satisfy even the pickiest guy or gal with its minty scent and smooth texture. Natural is sans color, perfect for bedtime or over lipstick, but I also adore Fig, a shimmering bronzy-plum that’s perfect for everyday wear. $7 per tube at Saffron Rouge.

Ilia Beauty Blossom Lady: I reviewed Ilia’s lipsticks in September and told you all how much I loved Blossom Lady. Well, I am still loving it. So much so that I need to get myself another tube. I also need to pick up a couple extras to give to friends since it’s such a flattering color. I just can’t think of a complexion this would not brighten up! More pictures and gushing are here.  $24 at Beautyhabit.com

For Strange Women Decadence and Debauchery: For Strange Women is a perfumery that I newly found this year and have been enjoying a great deal. I have a few favorites- Moss & Ivy, November, and Horse to be specific- but Decadence and Debauchery ranks high up there and strikes me as the one most people would be drawn to. It has a little bit of everything from tobacco to violet to vanilla and it’s all whipped up into one richly decadent perfume. $40 for 1/4oz bottle of perfume oil on etsy.

Aftelier Perfumes Pear Fir and Coffee Body Oil: Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes always has something new up her sleeve whether its creating Chef’s Essences®, perfumed teas, or candles. This time, she has caught me by surprise with her newest Body Oil & Hair Elixir; Pear Fir and Coffee. That’s quite a trio of scents! When I first applied the oil on my skin I thought, “Huh, that really is pear, fir and coffee.” After twenty minutes more I thought, “Wow! That still is pear, fir and coffee and I’m liking it!” Somehow these seemingly disparate notes- seemingly to me being a fragrance sniffer rather than a fragrance creator- work in concert to not only harmonize with each other but also allow each other room to shine as individual notes. This oil would be perfect for the perfumista in your life that is open to new olfactory experiences. $40 for 3.5 oz pump bottle at Aftelier.com.

Chanel No 19 Poudre: I will admit, unabashedly, that I have fallen hard for Chanel No 19 Poudre. I know it hasn’t gotten rave reviews from other perfume bloggers as it’s been deemed as a watered down version of the original, and not terribly inspired. Well, I disagree as Poudre makes me swoon with delight. The opening is a tender and sheer rendering of galbanum unlike the original which is much too cold and sharp for my taste. The iris glistens and remains steadfast throughout Poudre’s evolution, but is at its finest when it melds into the tonka-sandalwood base which is delectable! $85 for 1.7oz at Nordstrom.com.

DSH Vanille Botanique: Another new fragrance launch that has garnered a lot of praise, is Prada Candy. I like it well enough, but I’m not feeling the love quite so strongly. I much prefer DSH Perfumes Vanille Botanique which also starts off with smooth caramel but with a boozy twist. I find Vanille Botanique to satisfy the same type of craving as Candy, but in a more interesting manner. It might not be the “benzoin overload” the Prada PR claim Candy to be, but Vanille Botanique is a lush cloak of tonka, balsams and yes, benzoin. And even though I just sang praises for Chanel Poudre, when given the chance, I would rather spend my dollars on, and give my loved ones a gift from an indie perfumer. $130 for 30ml at indiescents.com.

Happy Shopping! ~Trish

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Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Stunning Lookbook

 

Roxana Villa has been hard at work, creating her Lookbook, and it was worth the effort. If you take a gander, you will be rewarded with gorgeous images from her collection and beautiful descriptions of her work. So here it is: Roxana Illuminated Perfume Lookbook, Number 1 (I hope that means there will be more)!

Since the above image is of Roxana’s Rosa, I am posting a portion of a prior Scent Hive review.

Rosa’s rose is comprised of an otto (essential oil) from Turkey and an absolute of rose bourbonica from India. But before you sense the full blossoming of those gorgeous flowers; woods, oud, vetiver and subtle leather introduce the fragrance. The woods and oud begin slightly sharp but rich, and then mellow into vetiver’s deep earthy vibration. When the rose finally blooms at the drydown, Rosa’s bouquet is full but close to the skin. It’s complex and provides a beautiful evolution on your skin.

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Roxana Villa's GreenWitch, the solid presentation

When Roxana Villa, creator of Roxana Illuminated Perfume, launched GreenWitch last spring I sang its praises among a choir of rejoicing bloggers. We were thrilled for this green chypre filled with the stuff of vintage perfume like oakmoss, patchouli, galbanum, and vetiver. I appreciated it so much that I put it in my Best Perfumes of 2010 post. This spring, Roxana has given us another presentation of GreenWitch which is slightly different from the liquid, but just as compelling.

Galbanum and oakmoss form the foundations of both GreenWitch formulations, but in the solid perfume, galbanum steps up as the dominant of the two. Galbanum is an aromatic resin of the Ferula galbaniflua found abundantly in Iran and gives perfumes a very classic, green scent. When I had the opportunity to smell galbanum resin on its own, I found it grassy and bitter, but with an herbal woodiness that I was drawn to and didn’t want to stop sniffing. Such is the case with the GreenWitch solid, it expresses this green resin crisply and authentically.

Apparently, galbanum can be challenging to work with as articulated by Mandy Aftel and Liz Zorn in their exchanges on Nathan Branch’s blog, Letters to a Fellow Perfumer: ep. 1 and ep. 2. Their conversation is very interesting but the part that really grabbed me was Mandy’s description of galbanum as a “green razor.” After spending a good amount of time with GreenWitch, it seems that Roxana chose not to dull the green razor, but rather exploit its verdant quality by blending it with other strong notes and complex accords.

In its solid form, GreenWitch plays more with the citrusy notes than its liquid counterpart. Petitgrain and bergamot share their sparkle and radiance amongst the fern and faux musk accords. It would have been hard for me to believe that something could actually be greener than the original GrrenWitch, but I think the solid actually is. I don’t know if it’s something in the beeswax base, but the galbanum is amplified in all its green glory! The liquid by contrast, and this is only in comparison to the solid, is more subdued and smooth. But there’s no denying that it too is intensely green.

I know chypres are not for everyone, but if you are a card carrying member of the chypre fan club, GreenWitch in either form is something you must experience. Also, if you would like to be entered in a drawing for a sample of the new GreenWitch solid, leave a comment! (Drawing is now closed). Please read more about Roxana’s vision and creation of GreenWitch at the following links: The Making of GreenWitch, and A Song for Spring.

Also, please visit the following blogs for more impressions on the solid version of GreenWitch.

Perfume Smellin Things

Windesphere Witch

Illuminated Perfume Journal

GreenWitch is available at Roxana’s etsy store. $28 for 5gm.

Posted by ~Trish

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Best Perfumes of 2010: A Blogging Event

December has been a whirlwind for most of us, and I’m still reeling over how fast it went. Fortunately, there were moments of quiet calm this month, and several of them were spent revisiting perfumes from this last year. Throughout 2010, I enjoyed testing and reviewing an abundance of beautiful, newly released botanicals, and was very pleased that the natural perfumers themselves received a lot of positive press via magazines and blogs. With all my heart, I hope this trend continues as it is so important to support independently owned, artisanal businesses, especially when they are creating such gorgeous works of olfactory art.


The following are my favorite naturals from 2010, (as well as two non-naturals I fell for) but it’s truly just a sampling of what I enjoyed. I did decide to make a list though, so I have chosen the ones that will become lifetime loves.


Bed of Roses by Velvet & Sweet Pea. I don’t want to over-analyze this gorgeous fragrance too much, but Bed of Roses is like a study of contrasts. It’s vintage-esque but also modern. It’s powdery, but at the same time fresh and vivid. I give huge kudos to Laurie Stern for her expert hand and for creating such a dynamic and interesting rose perfume. Her skillful blending of aged sandalwood and cognac (vintage) with green mandarin and rose leaf absolute (fresh) allow different facets of rose to be present at the same moment. At its heart, Bed of Roses is a perfume that contains nine different rose distillations, so it’s richer and lusher than any other rose perfume I have experienced. Rose lovers, you will not be disappointed.

Mejica by A Perfume Organic. Mejica took me by surprise. I was not expecting anything new from this vanilla based fragrance as I thought I had pretty much smelled all that the bean could offer. Clearly, I was wrong. Mejica is smooth and spicy with cloves and hints of orange in the opening. It has a rich vanilla heart and a drydown made of sweet resinous musk. It’s been lovely to wear through the holiday season, and I eagerly anticipate what it will do on my skin when the days become warmer.

Bancha by DSH Perfumes. Bancha came along early in 2010 when it was still cold outside and I was craving a soothing balm. Bancha slipped into my life and provided just what I needed. Bancha is very grounding, and I liken it to scooping up limes or lemons that have fallen into dark, minty soil. Basil, rose and jasmine sambac add an herbacous floral quality while sandalwood and cedarwood round out its base, giving an aura of woods, like heat rising off a sauna’s walls. I loved Bancha last winter and have worn it frequently throughout the year. In addition to the perfume, I have the Bancha scented oil which is an exceptionally restorative balm for the skin and soul.

Mecca Balsam by La Via del Profumo. Mecca Balsam received rave reviews throughout the blogging world, and they were much deserved. Mecca Balsam revolves around labdanum, frankincense, benzoin and tobacco which suffuses the air with a gentle suggestion of incense. It never becomes overwhelming because it is so well-blended and subtle. Tobacco balances nicely with the labdanum, making it soft and cozy. For an all natural perfume, it has striking sillage with impressive staying power. Another excellent fragrance for the winter months.

Wildflowers by Aftelier Perfumes. Mandy Aftel released (at least) four fragrances this year, all of which I adore. But Wildflowers made this list because it’s centered around a note that for me, is crazy-making…in a good way. Hay. Yes, hay drives me a little wild. It gets up in my scalp and makes it tingle. Its scent generates the desire to frolic in a meadow of wildflowers and twirl until punch-drunk dizzy. Not all hay notes do this to me, just the ones that smell golden and have honey dripping from their stacks. Wildflowers is all about this kind of sweet, sunkissed hay and begins with a tart burst of lime and ends in a glowingly honeyed drydown.

GreenWitch by Roxana Illuminated Perfume.  GreenWitch is unquestionably a chypre as oakmoss, galbanum, violet leaves and rose petals greet you from its start. After a bit, it gets a nutty, salty air from vetiver and tonka with floral nuances like boronia and honeysuckle. Honeysuckle is not in the notes, so I’m guessing the mimosa, ylang ylang and beeswax create a hybrid honeysuckle accord on my skin, and I love it. It smells like a day at the beach when you are blessed with warm skin, salt in your hair, and suntan lotion that barely lingers on your body. Green Witch has incredible sillage and staying power which lengthens the fragrance’s evolution, and it might well be Roxana’s most multi-layered perfume yet.

The Purple Dress by Ayala Moriel Parfums.  Technically, The Purple Dress was released in December 2009, but for all intents and purposes, it was a 2010 perfume. The Purple Dress is a black tea based fragrance, steeped in a tannicy anise that is dark and smoky, moody and sexy, and has a gorgeous honeyed-wood drydown. Champaca is the featured flower in this beauty, but is tempered by the lightheartedness of magnolia and an easy touch of honey. According to Ayala’s website, this fragrance is a salute to Alexander Argov, who composed the famous Israeli song, The Purple Dress. You can hear an excerpt of it here and enjoy its evocative melancholic beauty, similar to its namesake perfume.

Guerlain Arsène Lupin Dandy. As I mentioned, there are two non-naturals that I fell in love with this year, and Guerlain’s Arsène Lupin Dandy is one of them. Dandy is being promoted as a masculine fragrance, and it does smell incredible on my husband, but it also smells pretty darn good on me. So let’s not cramp Dandy’s style with labels. Dandy begins with a nod to the legendary guerlainade brew which for me is sadly short-lived but for others, that might be preferred. Regardless, it grants Dandy an opening of distinctive familiarity that segues beautifully into a spicy, woodsy, violet tinged fragrance. Cardamom and an ultra-smooth sandalwood comprise the spicy woods while Dandy’s violets infuse a supple leather note that weaves its way through the fragrance’s entirety. The drydown finishes with a leathery-sandalwood-cedar musk that takes Dandy from its guerlainade opening to a modern finish.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversée du Bosphore. Here’s the other non-natural perfume I could not pass up, and it happens to be another violet-leather fragrance, albeit a very different one from Dandy. Traversée du Bosphore’s opening is full speed ahead leather and violet. It’s a dry leather, nearly heat cracked and edgy and you can feel the little violets struggle against the unyielding hide. The opening is interesting, but not entirely likable and it’s not until a softness emerges that I find myself succumbing to this uniquely compelling fragrance. Once the leather allows the dewy violet to soften its parched surface, it becomes more full and welcoming. The heart continues to expand upon the iris-leather accord but incorporates a gourmand aspect which on my skin is a delicious vanilla-almond confection. It’s quite an evolution when one considers Traversée du Bosphore’s arid beginning evolving into a gentle, sugared and musky rose at the drydown.


Don’t forget to visit the other participating blogs. I can’t wait to read what their favorites have been!

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Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Can you believe the holiday season is already upon us? Thanksgiving will be here in a heartbeat, and the first night of Hanukkah is December 1st. So it’s time to hop to it and get gifting. I’ve gathered together some of my favorite bloggers (links below) to offer our recommendations for those special items on our to-give lists, and maybe even our own wish-lists. My list includes many price points ranging from $6.50 for a gorgeously scented soap to $325 for a precious limited edition perfume, with lots in between. As you might have guessed, all of my recommendations are 100% natural which means no petrochemicals, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, or parabens.


Urban Eden (Now Oilve and Oud) Shahrazad soap ($6.50 per bar) I recently reviewed Urban Eden soaps and at the time I had just started using my bar of Shahrazad. At this present moment, I have but a tiny sliver left and recently placed an order for another bar so I can continue to bask in its plentiful floral spiciness. Tuberose, frankincense, and cardamom are the standouts in this richly lathering soap that’s perfect for this time of year.

 


Gabriel’s Aunt tea light sampler. ($9 for a set of 10) After you spend some time at the Gabriel’s Aunt etsy shop, you’ll be glad you can choose 10 different tea lights in your sampler. Nikki Sherritt, creator of GA, has so many scrumptious scents to choose from that it really is hard to pick only a few. My favorite isRoyal Couple ($25 for 8oz candle), a rose and jasmine blend that warms a room with a finespun throw. You can read more about her liquid and solid fragrances here and here.

 

Wing and Prayer mini sampler ($10 for three 1/8oz rollerball) This has got to be one of the best bargains in the natural perfume world. $10 for three nicely sized fragrances? That’s a steal that we all need to take advantage of! I adore Flowers, a gardenia fragrance with sweet notes of linden and beeswax as well as Bella, a soft blend of verbena and neroli. An individual bottle is $35 for a 1.78oz spray which is also an incredible value for such gorgeous, all natural scents.

 

Scented Djinn Sahar ($25 for 5ml) This beauty boasts jasmine, sandalwood, and champaca infused with honey and vanilla. Sounds pretty right? It’s also calming and cozy and I love to wear it on cold fall mornings. I reviewed Saharthispast spring if you would like to read more.

 

evanhealy Sweet Blossom Hydrating Oil($29.95 for 4oz) Smoothing this body oil over freshly showered skin is a pleasure of which I will never tire. Frankincense, neroli and a light touch of ylang ylang intertwine to create a comforting scent that will put a smile on the lucky recipient’s face. And not only is it beautifully fragranced, it is made with cold pressed, organic oils of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, jojoba and apricot kernel so it feels as good as it smells.

 

Organic Apoteke Droseros Hydrating Mist ($30 for 5oz) Hyrdosols have become a part of my daily skincare routine. Sometimes I spray it on my skin when it’s dry and I want to apply a body oil (such as evanhealy’s above) and I also mist my face with a hydrosol before using my serum. Currently, Organic Apoteke is my favorite because it’s soothing and hydrating. But honestly, I really love it because it smells so darn good. It’s like there’s a magic honey ingredient in this mist that lasts for hours and swirls around my skin amidst delicate rose petals. I’ve got this in the travel size, and you can be sure it’s going with me on my next plane ride.

DSH PerfumesÉpices d’Hiver ($40 for 1 dram/5 mls or $120 for 1 oz) Épices d’Hiver was launched by DSH Perfumes last fall, and got a lot of wear during the cold months, which here in the Northwest can last well into May. So suffice to say, I wore it many a day. Now that the rain and cold are upon us once more, Épices d’Hiver is back in action, providing me with a cozy spicy go-to fragrance suffused with nutmeg, hay and woods.

Ayala Moriel Parfums Palas Atena ($48 for 4mls or $120 for 9ml flacon) Palas Atena was the first Ayala Moriel fragrance that I fell for, and it still ranks high on my list of favorites of her creations. It’s a classic floriental with notes of patchouli, amber, champaca, cinnamon, jasmine, lavender, neroli, sandalwood, and sweet orange. Each essence flows into the next, moving in continuous harmony like a high quality vintage fragrance.

Intelligent Nutrients Aromatics in Focus ($50 for 0.85 oz) Feel free to spritz this alluring aromatic all over yourself. Mist it on your face, your skin, and your hair and let its organic vitamin e and castor oils hydrate while organic flower oils intoxicate. The neroli jasmine duo is swoon worthy, and so well loved, that I can’t imagine anyone not being thrilled to open up this 100% organic scent.

 

Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s Rosa Solid ($72 for 5.3 gm solid in a refillable silver compact) Oh lovely Rosa! Such a precious compact made even more so by its contents. If you are a rose lover, or know one, you should feel compelled to give Rosa a serious gander. Rose otto from Turkey and an absolute of rose bourbonica from India grace this sensual solid perfume, as well as woods, oud, vetiver and leather. Its rich and earthy bouquet is full but wears close to the skin. One of my favorite rose perfumes.

 

Aftelier Perfumes Candide ($150 for 0.25 oz which includes a 2ml mini, the mini is sold separately for $45) Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes has just launched Candide, and made a personal appearance last night at Bendel’s in NYC to celebrate its release. And believe me, she has much to toast as Candide is truly beautiful. It radiates with sparkling notes of pink grapefruit, blood orange and raspberries all wrapped up in sueded jasmine petals. Its lush and enticing, but cheerful and flirtatious as well. A suggestion of frankincense affords a bit of grounding, but to be sure, Candide is lighthearted through and through.

 

Strange Invisible Perfumes Elektrou ($325 for 0.25 fl. oz. pure perfume • Available in-store or by phone only. Call toll free: 800.919.7472) Strange Invisible Perfumes has lured me in once before with these limited edition gems. I caved and bought Dimanche last spring, and have not regretted it for a second. It exudes two notes that I can’t seem to get enough of, hay and honey, in a surprisingly sophisticated and provocative manner. Well, if you wish you’d jumped at the chance to get Dimanche, Elektrou is quite similar, with a few distinct differences. Dimanche’s opening is on the sharp side due to the edginess iris sometimes possesses. Elektrou on the other hand is immediately soft with its vanilla and smooth amber accord. Sandalwood plays a large roll in Elektrou’s suppleness, emanating a sensual ease. It’s going to take serious restraint that I am not sure I have to keep myself for purchasing Elektrou as I want every scarf I own to smell just like it. It’s a splurge no doubt, but one that the perfumista in your life (which is probably yourself) will adore.

Please stop by the following blogs for more gift ideas.

Perfume Shrine

IndiePerfumes

Roxana Illuminated Perfume

All I Am- A Redhead


Posted by ~Trish

image courtesy of Roxana Villa.

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Gracing the Dawn by Roxana Villa


Gracing the Dawn is the second chypre to be released by Roxana Villa. The first was Green Witch, which emerged this past spring and was heralded by us perfume bloggers as a gorgeous “marine chypre” due to its sea side aromas. Gracing the Dawn is similar in that it possesses classic chypre notes like oakmoss and galbanum, but it differs from Green Witch of course, even from the opening. It feels more like a vintage perfume as a multitude of complex notes intertwine effortlessly so no essence is distinct, yet the fragrance as a whole is quite distinctive.


To me, Green Witch is a softer chypre with a floral heart that resembles a neroli kissed honeysuckle. By contrast, Gracing the Dawn with its rich abundance of rose, jasmine and mimosa bring to mind vintage chypres like Magie Noir and as Donna from Perfume Smellin Things mentioned, Jolie Madame. Adding to the opulence of the aforementioned flowers is a tincture of violets from Roxana’s mother’s garden that grace the floral heart making it even more rounded and voluminous.


Powdery, violet laden woods appear in the drydown which is enhanced by a minuscule amount of Africa Stone, otherwise known as the fossilized poop of the hyrax. A tincture of Africa Stone provides an ambergris-like dimension that continues the vintage perfume likeness. Unlike Roxana’s other purely botanical fragrances, she has labeled this one natural since Africa Stone is clearly not of the botanical nature. But it is ethically harvested and of course, not synthesized in a lab.


Please visit the other participating sites for more impressions of Gracing the Dawn:

Roxana herself at Illuminated Perfume Journal

Beth at Cleveland Fragrance Examiner

Lucy at Indie Perfumes

Elena at Perfume Shrine


Gracing the Dawn is available at Roxana’s etsy shop, $27 for a 1gm vial.

Posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: A sample was sent to me for consideration by Roxana Villa. The opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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